List of Anime That Are Genuine

I updated my old anime list which used to be titled List of Anime That Are Not Stupid, giving it a new focus.

I believe that most popular anime feel fake. They rely too much on some trick like a special power or object; storylines can feel unnatural, artlessly manipulated for the sake of hype and sensationalism; they use psychological gimmicks to milk the viewer’s emotional body in a calculated way; they speak to the ego rather than the higher self.

Cheap drama, gaslighting, ego trips: sometimes this is done in a subtle way but I’m sure many people know what I’m talking about. And that’s fine! This is what made them popular in the first place. I had fun watching/reading Attack on Titan, Chainsaw Man, Jujutsu Kaisen, Death Note, Dragon Ball, Demon Slayer, etc. Anime (or manga) like these are enjoyable, just like junk food is enjoyable, but we also need nutritious food!

I wanted to publish a list of anime that are less pretentious, more wholesome, maybe even spiritual in how they portray life and its struggles. In a word: “higher”. These kind of anime tend to be less popular because they resonate with fewer souls, which is why most items on this list are true hidden gems.

Feel free to let me know what you think by posting a comment at the end of this article.

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013)

  • Japanese: かぐや姫の物語 (Kaguyahime no Monogatari)
  • Episodes: 1
  • Genre: folktale, fantasy
  • Directed by: 高畑 勲 Isao Takahata
  • Studio: Studio Ghibli

The term “masterpiece” gets thrown around a lot to describe so many anime. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya is the only real masterpiece that I personally recognise.

The finest Studio Ghibli production, this movie is an adaptation of The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, a popular Japanese folktale.

The Twelve Kingdoms (2002-2003)

  • Japanese: 十二国記 (Juuni Kokuki)
  • Episodes: 45
  • Genre: fantasy, adventure
  • Original story written by: 小野 不由美 Fuyumi Ono
  • Studio: Pierrot

The Twelve Kingdoms has the richest character development stories that I have seen in an anime. Despite the fantastic setting, it has a realism that makes situations and people easy to relate to. Intellectual, humbling and emotionally deep.

Hyouge Mono (2011-2012)

  • Japanese: へうげもの (Heugemono; read Hyougemono)
  • Episodes: 39
  • Genre: historical
  • Original story written by: 山田 芳裕 Yoshihiro Yamada
  • Studio: Bee Train

剽げ者 Hyougemono is a funny Japanese word that could be translated as “jocular fellow”. The rhythm of this anime beats between the blatantly facetious and the deadly serious.

Loyalty, betrayal, 武士道 bushidou, tea ceremonies, 侘寂 wabi sabi, and pottery. A lot of pottery! Hyouge Mono has captured something of the Nipponic spirit that we rarely see in anime.

ODDTAXI (2021)

  • Japanese: オッドタクシー (Oddotakushii)
  • Episodes: 13
  • Genre: mystery, suspense, drama
  • Studios: OLM, P.I.C.S.

Don’t judge ODDTAXI by its cover: it will blow your mind! It’s one of the cleverest anime you’ll ever watch.

Ping Pong the Animation (2014)

  • Japanese: ピンポン (Pinpon)
  • Episodes: 11
  • Genre: coming of age, psychological, sports
  • Directed by: 湯浅 政明 Masaaki Yuasa
  • Manga written by: 松本 大洋 Taiyou Matsumoto
  • Studio: Tatsunoko Production

I had to force myself to start watching this anime. Sports anime is not my thing and I couldn’t care less about ping pong. And I am glad I watched it, because Ping Pong the Animation is now on my top favourites list.

The drawing style is crazy but I got used to it in the first episode; and once I finished watching the series, I wished more anime were drawn/animated like this.

Kids on the Slope (2012)

  • Japanese: 坂道のアポロン (Sakamichi no Aporon)
  • Episodes: 12
  • Genre: coming of age, romance
  • Original story written by: 渡辺 信一郎 Shin’ichirou Watanabe
  • Studio: Tezuka Productions, MAPPA

A story of jazz, friendship and love. A hidden gem, like most anime on this list.

Ranking of Kings (2021-2022)

  • Japanese: 王様ランキング (Ousama Rankingu)
  • Episodes: 23
  • Genre: adventure, fantasy
  • Written by: 十日草輔 Sousuke Tooka
  • Studio: Wit Studio

Quoting people from the trailer’s comments:

Don’t be fooled by the cute art style.

One of the most wholesome anime series I have ever watched.

I just want to see him succeed! Just let my boy be happy!

Mushishi (2005-2006)

  • Japanese: 蟲師 (Mushishi)
  • Episodes: 26
  • Genre: adventure, supernatural, 癒し系 iyashikei (healing)
  • Original story written by: 漆原 友紀 Yuki Urushibara
  • Studio: Artland

A mushi-shi ( SHI ‘master/teacher’) is someone who can see and interact with mushi: evanescent creatures, tangible at times, small spirits or gigantic demons. He is a medium and a healer, among other things, and his job is to deal with these entities when they create problems.

With most episodes being self-contained stories, Mushishi is storytelling taken to a whole new level.

Kaiji (2007-2011)

  • Japanese: 逆境無頼カイジ (Gyakkyou Burai Kaiji)
  • Episodes: 26 + 26
  • Genre: psychological, gambling
  • Manga written by: 福本 伸行 Fukumoto Nobuyuki
  • Studio: Madhouse

The grandfather of Squid Game! I wasn’t sure whether I should have included a gambling anime on this list but I believe that Kaiji is a genuine, unpretentious anime which also happens to be exceptionally entertaining. There is a lot to be learned from this anime.

This is a longish anime with two seasons:

  1. Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor
  2. Kaiji: Against All Rules.

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